Aoibhinn’s PhD graduation overshadowed by Tubridy’s break-up announcement
Dr Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain fulfils career goal, but all eyes on her split with Tubridy
RTE radio presenter Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain has long said women should not be defined by their relationships.
So she can't help but feel despondent this weekend.
On Thursday, she fulfilled a long-held ambition and graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a PhD in mathematics. Taking to social media she proudly declared: "You can call me Dr. Just passed my PhD."
But just hours later that outstanding academic achievement was completely overshadowed by the news she had split with her boyfriend of five years, RTE presenter Ryan Tubridy.
In a joint statement of 'conscious uncoupling' issued by their agent on Friday evening, they claimed they would remain friends.
"Aoibhinn and Ryan are no longer together," the statement read. "They will remain friends and ask for privacy at this time. There will be no further comment on this personal matter."
Despite the fact that the former presenter has long been vocal of her views on WAG culture, it didn't stop her graduation being overshadowed when news of the break-up dominated the front pages of every newspaper yesterday morning.
In September, global hysteria surrounded George Clooney's wedding to Amal Alamuddin, sparking the tongue-in-cheek headline: 'Internationally acclaimed lawyer marries an actor.' And the irony wasn't lost on friends.
"The fact that the news was made public a few hours after she passed her exams hasn't gone unnoticed," a source close to the couple told the Sunday Independent.
"She has always made a point of saying that she has a career in her own right and that women shouldn't be defined by relationships."
The pair had moved in to the home of their dreams exactly a year ago.
The €1.25m property was a big step in the couple's long-term commitment to each other.
They had already overcome a very public but brief split and decided to give the relationship another go. But over the past two years the couple faced constant questions about their plans to marry and start a family.
A source said this weekend: "Ryan is quite the restless type. Aoibhinn wears her heart on her sleeve and on a private level isn't shy about her needs or where she sees her life heading."
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'At the beginning of the year Aoibhinn told a reporter she wanted a small family within the next 10 years.
She said she could see herself as a bride and would love to have children before she is 40.
"I also hope in 10 years I'd have a proper job. I'm still a student," she said at the time in a nod to her dream of graduating with a doctorate. But just five days later, Ryan seemed somewhat less enthusiastic to talk of future plans together.
Asked by another newspaper how he felt after Aoibhinn (31) revealed she would love to be a bride, the 41-year-old suggested he wouldn't bow to pressure: "She's a woman who knows her own mind - and I'm a man who knows my mind."
Then, in July, Aoibhinn remained publicly tight-lipped about her plans to settle down. She cited working in the media as "ultimately haphazard" and "not one that allows a lot of planning in your life in terms of holidays, pensions, babies and everything in between".
Weeks later, when asked again about his future with the former teacher, Ryan again tip-toed around the question.
"Well, we are together," he laughed. "I don't know where it is going to end up, but I'll have to talk it over with Aoibhinn first, and then I'll let you know."
In September, Aoibhinn adopted the same public stance as Tubridy when the subject of marriage and babies reared its head again.
"Ryan and I are living together and are very happy. We have no plans. We're happy just doing what we are doing."
Regardless of her views on where she sees her home life headed, she has previously voiced her belief that women should forge their own career paths.
"I think we should be in a day and age where women are not defined by their relationships. It is important for women. It's completely sexist. It annoys me because I've been working in the business for eight years now. We have this WAG culture but it doesn't have to pervade all you do," she said. The part-time lecturer also graduated with first class honours from UCD in 2005, having studied theoretical physics. She will now take up a position in mathematics education in UCD.